Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.
14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.
said = אָמַר ʼâmar, aw-mar’; a primitive root; to say (used with great latitude):—answer, appoint, avouch, bid, boast self, call, certify, challenge, charge, (at the, give) command(-ment), commune, consider, declare, demand, × desire, determine, × expressly, × indeed, × intend, name, × plainly, promise, publish, report, require, say, speak (against, of), × still, × suppose, talk, tell, term, × that is, × think, use (speech), utter, × verily, × yet.
Mamre = מַמְרֵא Mamrêʼ, mam-ray’; from H4754(in the sense of vigor); lusty; Mamre, an Amorite:—Mamre.
Hebron = חֶבְרוֹן Chebrôwn, kheb-rone’; from H2267; seat of association; Chebron, a place in Palestine, also the name of two Israelites:—Hebron.; derived from – חֶבֶר cheber, kheh’-ber; from H2266; a society; also a spell:— charmer(-ing), company, enchantment, × wide.
Let’s look at verse 14 via Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:
(14) The Lord said unto Abram.—The departure of Lot was certainly a great grief to Abram; for he lost thereby the companionship of the relative who had shared his abandonment of his country, and whom, probably, in his childless state, he had regarded as his heir. Jehovah, therefore, consoles him by a more definite promise of the possession of the whole land of which he had so generously given Lot the choice, and by the assurance that his own seed should be numerous as the dust of the earth. We may also feel sure that as Lot was deteriorating, so Abram was drawing nearer to God, and walking more closely with Him; and hence the fuller assurance of the Divine blessing.
We do not know the manner in which God speaks to Abram here – whether that be face to face or through an intermediary or via the Spirit to his heart. Abram exists in that portion of the Genesis text between God seeming to walk on the earth in a body and God sending angels to speak on his behalf or God appearing but shrouded by fire or a cloud. His life is a transition point in the story. It is not clear in much of Abram’s section how God communicates to him. But the text is clear that Yahweh (as opposed to a less specific Elohim) is the One who addresses him.
What does God say? He reminds Abram of promises He already made.
From David Guzik:
1. (Gen 13:14-15) God promises the land to Abram and to his descendants forever.
And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are; northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.”
a. After Lot had separated from him: God wanted to talk to Abram alone after Lot left. This was a promise made to Abram, not to Abram’s nephew.
b. All the land which you see I give to you: God also wanted to remind Abram that even though Abram had been generous enough to grant some of the land to Lot, God still said the land belonged to Abram.
2. (Gen 13:16) God reminds Abram of His promise to give Abram many descendants.
“And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”
a. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth: This was quite a promise to make to a childless man in his seventies or eighties. Yet Abram knew to walk by faith and not by sight.
- God promises (again) Abram all of the land.
- God promises (again) Abram innumerable descendants.
It is not hard to understand why the reminder is necessary. Abram’s faith is being tested. He is now in many ways alone. He left his homeland. To avoid strife, Lot has left him and in the process his nephew has taken possession of half of Abram’s promised land. He has no descendants yet. Abram left Ur on the basis of a promise from God and he has not yet seen them fulfilled. Here, God reassures him that the promises still stand.
God keeps His promises. Next, He tells Abram to walk through the Promised Land. Abram does.
(17) Walk through the land.—Repeated change of scene is not merely one of the pleasures of the nomad life, but also a necessity; for the uplands, covered with rich herbage in the spring, are usually burnt up in summer, and in the winter are exposed to driving winds and rain-storms. In these journeyings Abram is now to have the tranquil pleasure of feeling that his seed will inherit each beautiful spot that he visits, and that he is taking possession of it, and hallowing it for them.
(18) The plain of Mamre.—(Heb., oaks of Mamre. See on Genesis 12:6). Mamre was an Amorite, then living, and as he was confederate with Abram, it was apparently with the consent of the Amorites, and by virtue of the treaty entered into with them, that Abram made this oak-grove one of his permanent stations.
Hebron.—That is, alliance. Hebron was perhaps so called from the confederacy formed between Abram and the Amorites, and was apparently the name not only of a city, but of a district, as the oaks of Mamre are described as being “in Hebron.” For its other name, Kirjath-arba, see note on Genesis 23:2.
When you acquire a new place to live, what do you do first? For most people, you walk from room and room and look around. If you live on a larger property, you walk upon its grounds. We take ownership of our surroundings in that manner. God tells Abram to take ownership of the land by walking around.
We learn in verse 18, if we look carefully, that Abram is sharing Canaan peacefully with those who already live there. They should probably know, based on the curse of their ancestor Canaan (who may still be alive) that they do not *own* this land. Whether they do know remains to be seen. In any case, they share the land peacefully for now as its true owner walks around.
Another note on verse 18, specifically on the name of Hebron, from The Pulpit Commentaries:
Then—literally, and, acting immediately as the heavenly voice directed—Abram removed—or rather pitched (cf. Genesis 13:12)—his tent, and dwelt—settled down, made the central point of his subsequent abode in Canaan (Wordsworth)—in the plain— בְּאֵלֹנֵי = oaks (Gesenius) or terebinths Celsins); vide Genesis 12:6—of Mamre—an Amorite chieftain who afterwards became the friend and ally of Abram (Genesis 14:13, Genesis 14:24), and to whom probably the grove belonged—which is in Hebron—twenty-two miles south of Jerusalem on the way to Beersheba, a town of great antiquity, having been built seven years before Zoan, in Egypt (Numbers 13:22). As it is elsewhere styled Kirjath-arba, or the city of Arba (Genesis 23:2; Genesis 35:27), and appears to have been so called until the conquest (Joshua 14:15), the occurrence of the name Hebron is regarded as a trace of post-Mosaic authorship (Clericus, et alii);but it is more probable that Hebron was the original name of the city, and that it received the appellation Kirjath-arba on the arrival in the country of Arba the Anakite, perhaps during the sojourn of Jacob’s descendants in Egypt (Rosenmüller, Bantugarten, Hengstenberg, Keil, Kurtz). The place is called by modern Arabs El Khalil, the friend of God. And built there an altar unto the Lord.
In verse 18, Abram builds an alter to the Lord. From David Guzik again:
c. And built an altar there to the Lord: Abram built another altar. He lived life in constant awareness of the need for a sacrificial atonement and covering.
In these verses, we see Abram – famous for his faith – growing in his faith. We also see God assuring Abram that He never fails to deliver a promise once given.